CBS Sports announced this week that it will provide a live online stream of the NCAA Final Four men’s college basketball games this weekend on CBSSports.com, marking the first time that a major U.S. sporting event has been shown live and in its entirety on the Internet.
CBSSports.com said online traffic figures for the first eight days of its March Madness online coverage this year increased 147 percent over 2007, totaling more than 4.3 million unique visitors. The network said a large factor for the increase was its decision to drop registration requirements for viewing its NCAA March Madness on Demand service, giving fans immediate access to the video player. The one-click access gives CBSSports.com the ability to distribute links to NCAA March Madness on Demand to a network of more than 200 sites across the Internet, including major sports Web sites such as ESPN.com, Yahoo Sports and SI.com.
This was the first year that March Madness on-Demand gave users access to all 63 games of the NCAA championship. Total minutes of live streaming video and audio in the first eight days of the tournament totaled more than 4.5 million hours, surpassing the entire 2007 total of minutes of live video and audio consumption.
“It’s a testament to the vision that the NCAA and CBS had for the NCAA March Madness on Demand that we’re continuing to make history around this event,” said Jason Kint, senior vice president and general manager for CBSSports.com. “The consumer and advertising success story we’ve written by being the first to offer a live online broadcast of a major sporting event and on a complementary platform to television is surely something that other leagues and networks will look to replicate in the future.”
Early ratings for CBS’s broadcast coverage of the first 15 first- and second round games in the tournament this year were down 9 percent compared to 2007, according to Nielsen Media Research.
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